Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will be posted Monday, according to FoxSports.com
Kang, 27, is a power-hitting shortstop who has spent the last seven seasons playing for the Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. He’s coming off a career year in which he hit .354 with 39 home runs, 115 RBIs and a 1.189 OPS in 116 games.
While those numbers are eye-popping, Korea professional baseball is an extremely offensive environment; teams averaged 5.7 runs per game last season, compared to Major League Baseball’s 4.1 mark.
Kang is a career .298/.382/.502 hitter with four seasons of 20-plus homers. He also stole a career-high 21 bases in 2012, but that number dipped to three last season.
Although the shortstop market is thin, many clubs view Kang as a second baseman. CBS Sports reported earlier this week that the Mets, Giants and A’s are interested in the infielder.
The Mets and A’s both need middle-infield help, while the CBS Sports report speculates the Giants could move Joe Panik to third (replacing Pablo Sandoval) and put Kang at second.
– Cash Kruth
The Mets have been looking to deal an arm, and it appears the Rangers have inquired about right-hander Dillon Gee.
Jon Paul Morosi reports the clubs have had discussions about Gee, who was 7-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 22 starts for the Mets last season. The 28-year-old posted a 3.62 ERA in 199 innings 2013.
Gee made $3.625 million in 2014, per Cots Baseball Contracts, and is again arbitration eligible. He’s under club control through 2016.
Gee is from Cleburne, Texas, and went to the University of Texas at Arlington.
– Cash Kruth
The Dodgers are willing to trade All-Star infielder Dee Gordon, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
The 26-year-old Gordon is coming off a breakout season in which he led the National League in triples (12) and stolen bases (64) while hitting .289 to earn his first All-Star appearance.
His on-base percentage — .326 last season and .314 for his career — could be an issue for the new Dodgers’ regime, however. Sherman notes Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and Co. prefer high on-base guys.
There’s bound to be interest in Gordon, given lack of shortstops in today’s game. Although Gordon played strictly at second last year, he came up as a shortstop and played there from 2011-13.
The Dodgers’ other second base options should they move Gordon include Alex Guerrero and Justin Turner.
– Cash Kruth
The Mariners aren’t done exploring the free-agent market for outfield bats.
Days after inking outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz to a four-year, $58-million deal, Seattle is reportedly showing interest in free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.
The Mariners needed to get more right-handed this offseason, and did with Cruz — who will slot between the lefty-swinging Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager in their lineup. Cabrera is a switch-hitter, and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik hinted earlier this week Seattle isn’t looking strictly at right-handed bats for its vacant right field position.
“Not necessarily,” Zduriencik said. “A switch-hitter would be tremendous …Right-handed would be good, but you’re not going to walk away from a good hitter.”
The 30-year-old Cabrera hit .301/.351/.458 with 16 home runs in 139 games for Toronto in 2014 after playing in only 88 games the previous year because of injuries.
Cabrera is thought to be looking for a five-year deal in the range of at least $50 million, a source told the paper.
The Mariners already lost their first-round pick by signing Cruz and also would forfeit their second-round pick should they sign Cabrera or any other free agent who rejected a qualifying offer.
– Cash Kruth
Torii Hunter is coming home.
The 39-year-old outfielder has agreed to a one-year, $10.5-million contract with the Twins, tweets Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale was the first to report the deal.
Hunter played the first 11 years of his career with the Twins, who drafted him in the first round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He won seven Gold Glove Awards and made two All-Star appearances in his first stint with the club.
Hunter left Minnesota in 2008 to sign with the Angels before playing the last two seasons with the Tigers in chase of his first World Series title.
Hunter hit .286 with 17 home runs last season and is a .279/.334/.446 career hitter in 18 Major League seasons.
– Cash Kruth
The A’s and White Sox are believed to be in “serious talks” for right-hander Jeff Samardzija, an American League source told The Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Samardzija is in the final year of his contract, which is projected to be worth about $9.5 million via arbitration. He has previously said he wants to test the free-agent market after 2015, so a long-term deal with any team looking to acquire him seems slim.
But Samardzija, a Valparaiso, Ind., native who starred in baseball and football at Notre Dame, grew up a White Sox fan and played for the Cubs, might be willing to talk with the South Siders about a new deal.
“He loved the Cubs until the new regime showed up,” the source told The Sun-Times. “So my guess is Jeff would be pleased. It all makes sense. Jeff had no interest in talking extension with the Cubs, you wonder if he might be changing his tune now in order to complete a deal with the Sox.”
The right-hander is a highly sought after commodity after going 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA in 33 starts last season between the Cubs and A’s. He’s also durable — working at least 200 innings each of the past two seasons — and should have less wear and tear on his arm than others his age, considering he began his career as a reliever.
That means the price for Samardzija will be high, even though he’ll likely only be a one-year rental.
The White Sox finished in fourth place in the AL Central in 2014, a year after finishing last. General manager Rick Hahn’s reshaping process has been going more quickly than some expected, bolstered by the offseason signings of first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche and left-handed reliever Zach Duke.
Adding Samardzija to a rotation that already includes the dominant Chris Sale and underrated Jose Quintana would make the Sox — with a core of everyday players such as Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez — an intriguing sleeper pick in a division that includes the four-time reigning AL Central-champion Tigers and AL-champion Royals.
– Cash Kruth
The A’s appear to be just getting started on their offseason makeover.
The morning after trading All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for third baseman Brett Lawrie and three prospects, Oakland is again leading the rumor mill.
John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweeted Friday night the A’s and Braves are discussing Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, with the thought that right-hander Jeff Samardzija is “the bait.”
Upton and Samardzija each have one year remaining on their contracts and have been rumored to be dealt throughout the Hot Stove season. Samardzija would head the Braves’ rotation in 2015, while Upton and Gattis — who won’t be arbitration eligible until after 2015 — would help the ease the offensive loss of Donaldson.
Gattis, a former catcher who the Braves plan on starting in left, makes more sense in the American League, where he can be used at designated hitter, first base and the outfield.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal also reports another trade is brewing for the A’s, but says he expects a left-handed bat such as Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick or John Jaso to be on the move instead of Samardzija.
- Cash Kruth
The Red Sox might not be done yet.
Boston dominated the news Monday, reportedly signing Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez — with a press conference scheduled for Tuesday at Fenway Park.
But that doesn’t mean the Red Sox aren’t still interested in bringing back former ace Jon Lester. Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweeted the two sides are “very much engaged.”
The Sox appear to have company.
The Red Sox have been aggressive in trade talks with the Phillies regarding left-hander Cole Hamels. USA Today’s Bob Nightingale reports the Red Sox and Phillies have already discussed potential trades for the lefty.
Nightengale tweets the Dodgers, too, have contacted the Phillies about the 30-year-old Hamels, who has four years and $96 million remaining on his contract with the Phillies.
A few other notes:
- The Blue Jays have internally discussed a potential trade for Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, per Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
- The Orioles are interested in outfielder Melky Cabrera as a “fallback option” to Nick Markakis, per MASN.
- The Mariners and third baseman Kyle Seager are nearing a seven-year, $100-million extension.
– Cash Kruth
Free agent Pablo Sandoval appears to be nearing a decision.
According to various reporters, the 28-year-old third baseman’s list of suitors is down to the Red Sox, Giants and Padres.
John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle reports the Kung Fu Panda is leaning toward signing with the Red Sox, while the Padres have extended the highest offer.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal also tweeted those three teams extended offers, quoting Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, as saying all offers were “close.”
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe also reports all contract offers are close, with Boston’s at five years for $95 million
Sandoval is a .294/.346/.465 career hitter with 106 home runs in seven Major League seasons, all with the Giants.
- Cash Kruth
The White Sox are one of three teams inquiring about D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, according to a report Thursday in The Arizona Republic.
Montero, 31, is a two-time All-Star who has drawn interest from the crosstown-rival Cubs and Dodgers, as well as the South Siders.
The White Sox have been looking for a fixture at catcher since letting A.J. Pierzynski leave as a free agent following the 2012 season.
Tyler Flowers was given first crack at the job in 2013, before Josh Phegley took over as the season closed.
Chicago again stuck with Flowers (127 games) and Rule-5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto (48) last season, but Sox catchers combined to hit just .239/.293/.395 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs.
The Sox aren’t necessarily looking to replace Flowers, because they like how he handles pitchers and calls games — the No. 1 trait they value in catchers. But they have looked for alternatives or complements in the past, including left-handed-hitting Astros catcher Jason Castro last year.
Montero signed a five-year, $60-million contract with Arizona after the 2012 season, a deal thought to be a great investment for a then-28-year-old catcher. But Montero’s average plummeted from .286 to .230 in 2013 as he played in only 116 games because of injuries.
He rebounded last year to make his second National League All-Star team, but finished with a .243/.329/.370 slashline, and the new D-backs regime appears willing to trade him for the right price.
Montero, a .264/.342/.421 career hitter over nine seasons, is due to make $12 million in 2015 and $14 million the next two seasons.
Russell Martin, the jewel of the free-agent catching class, signed a five-year, $82-million deal with the Blue Jays earlier this week. The rest of the remaining free-agent catching options — Geovany Soto, David Ross, J.P. Arencibia, etc. — are viewed more as backups.
- Cash Kruth